The fundamental goal of authority in Greece is to reconfigure the university from a space of political resistance to an institution for those with the class position to support their admission and attendance. The state administration rolled out its plan with repressive strikes, measures to intensify studies and legislation. Among these, Law 4777 stands out, which provides for the permanent presence of a police force in schools, controlled entry to university premises by tourniquets, disciplinary procedures and expulsion of students and, finally , the restriction of admissions to university schools by special bases in examinations. .
Abolition of asylum/police in schools
Student asylum is a fundamental principle of the university that anticipates non-violation by state authorities. It informally establishes a form of free activity within the university space, sheltered from external state intervention.
The university asylum has been a springboard for social and class struggles over the years, with a significant presence of anarchists within it. A turning point, in terms of struggles in Greece, was the Polytechnic uprising of 1973, which highlighted the role of asylum in social struggles. The struggles that took place with the asylum as a landmark of the strikers of a paper industry (MEL) in ’75, the struggles for the restructuring of ’85 and the chemical workers of ’85, the polytechnic from ’95 with the 500 arrests of anarchists, from the student movements of ’06-’07, to the December uprising, to the long strikes of workers in the university contracting industry, to the struggles of recent years. The abolition of asylum is part of the state strategy of preventive counter-insurgency against the social and class movement, the squats and the anarchists.
The state apparatus, whether under social-democratic or neoliberal management, constantly tries not only to break this thread of moments of struggle with Asylum as a point of reference, but also to deactivate and suppress any focus of resistance and struggle within it. Since 2017, the state apparatus and university authorities have been calling for the abolition of asylum and the establishment of university police. Lock down faculties during hours when classes are not in session, roll and increase security patrols. In June 2019, the neoliberal administration chose to abolish asylum with its first piece of legislation. Since then, police operations aimed at repressing student struggles have numbered in the dozens. Of the 92 arrests of activists in the occupation of the rectorate of the ΕMP (National Metropolitan Polytechnic Institute), more than 40 arrests in the expulsion of the occupation, the very recent arrests of students by the ΕΚΑΜ (police unit related to SWAT) in the ASOEE (Athens University School of Economics), the eviction of the ”Biologiko” squat and the new shelter of the school of chemistry.
One of the last key laws passed by the Greek state was Law 4777, which was another link in the chain of attacks against the student movement and against social and class resistance in general (see the law prohibiting gatherings and the upcoming anti-working class law), all enacted amid widespread and harsh lockdowns and repression in the public sphere. Despite the state-friendly environment (confinement, ban on gatherings, repression, closed universities, etc.), this struggle, which began before the law was passed, succeeded in massing and breaking the bans in the street, resulting in more and more massive marches. thousands of students across the country. The escalation of the struggle found thousands of students, pupils, teachers, activists, anarchists and solidarity activists in the streets on the day the law was passed, where there were also dynamic clashes with repressive forces.
University occupations, wrestling until summer 21
After the adoption of the law, Thessaloniki was at the center of the movement, when on February 22, 2021, three student associations occupied the administrative building of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the state responded by arresting dozens of students, beatings, throwing tear gas and other repressive actions. Despite this, a few hours later, the administrative building was reoccupied, becoming a center for libertarian struggle, which was a crucial turning point and massively expanded the student struggle, leading to protests by thousands in Thessaloniki for months.
The occupation of the administrative building of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki inspired similar occupations in universities throughout the rest of Greece which lasted several weeks. The occupying Aristotle University of Thessaloniki was expelled for the second time in March, leading to dozens more arrests. However, this resulted in the proliferation of occupations in the faculties and the revival of general student assemblies, where, in combination with the organized and structured intervention of libertarian and anarchist students within student associations, a majority student libertarian was created, which is expressed so far by weekly demonstrations and dozens of other actions.
The dozens of occupations of the faculties of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the animation of the university with hundreds of events and actions supported by thousands of people, have made the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki a place of radical political and social osmosis. Note that before the second eviction of the occupation, and while the struggle of the hunger striker D. Koufontina was at a critical point, the state attempted another eviction which failed thanks to the quick actions of the militants. We note in particular that in a city terrorized by the police, 150 solidarity activists carried out the first national night march amid the bans in order to enter the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki to strengthen the occupiers of the administration, where they succeeded (despite the police).
In response, the state said it would install police forces at the nation’s top universities on April 15. The appointment given by the state was answered by the dozens of occupations of schools and universities nationwide. Faced with the joint movement of students, workers and radicals, the state has been forced to withdraw and readjust its planning for next September.
New Year September ’21 to today
In the wake of dynamic mobilizations, state repression found the space to deploy its attack: in particular, a summons was issued to 14 activists who took part in an occupation of a university campus for compulsory DNA tests under the pretext of linking evidence of attacks that had taken place on the police a few years earlier. From the beginning, the anarchists launched solidarity actions, organized information actions, debates and demonstrations. To date, no DNA sampling has taken place.
The permanent police presence and its preparation
In the past, the crackdown has focused on redesigning the university and preparing for a permanent police presence on campuses. Specifically, he announced a budget for the redevelopment of the biology faculty, which included plans to evict the 34-year-old occupation. The eviction and demolition of the occupation took place on New Year’s Eve when the campus was empty of people. In the following days, radicals occupy a new building near the old one, which is evicted a few days later, with an almost simultaneous invasion of an Athens school and arrests of students who claim a space that the school dean’s office sealed off.
~ anarchist student collective Quieta Movere
This article is the first of a two-part book on the neoliberal intervention in European higher education. Part II, looking at the wider European context, will appear next week.
Pic: The statue of Aristotle is disguised as a riot cop, provided by the authors.